“Assembly: Peacemaker” – A Major Research Project by Christian Metaxas

On August 3rd 2016, XDM candidate Christian Metaxas performed Assembly: Peacemaker at THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener. The performance was a creative research component of Metaxas’ Major Research Project entitled “Assembly: An Exporation of Digital Maximalism, Identity, and the Construction of Art-research”

IMG_9250The piece was performed for 4 hours and consisted of Metaxas playing a violent video game, taking still images of headshots from the game, printing them out, and folding them into paper cranes.


Here is Christian with a in-depth description of the meaning and motivation behind the performance:

“Assembly was born from Professor Morrison’s digital life writing class. I wanted the final project to be an expression of digital maximalism. In day to day life, you probably engage with data on a vast level. You might like a post, retweet a thought, upload a video, download a song, delete some old, unflattering photo album. Even things as innocuous as connecting to the network of a local coffee shop, or your smartphone leaking data – engagement with the digital is a wide spanning, repeating and continuous curation of the self. Assembly is plugged in, beautifully violent and noisy – its wires and screens and hardware tethered together in a web of expression. As I play through Counter-Strike I record myself, scrubbing through the footage afterward and taking photographs of my headshots, printing through pictures, slicing them into squares and then folding those squares into ornate, origami cranes. If the process were repeated, if I folded a crane for every headshot, the collection of cranes would be massive and gorgeous. Digital maximalism isn’t just an aesthetic, it’s a lifestyle that informs the creation of identity.

At THEMUSEUM specifically, the subtitle of Peacemaker was added to better emphasize the transformative nature of the piece. In the same way that identity is ubiquitous, ephemeral, and malleable, so too is that violence of Counter-Strike. By taking the ensuing headshots and transforming them into beautiful paper cranes, by being able to witness that metamorphosis take place, the action is visibly re-contextualized. Peacemaker doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Each headshot was a clash between two individuals entering into competition with one another. Satisfying the criteria Barthes lays out in Camera Lucida (the original inspiration for the piece) for what he refers to as “photographic surprises”. Rarity, prowess, ephemera, technique, luck: like the flash of a camera, the headshot captures something fleeting. The choice of interaction and the level of engagement, digital maximalism, acts as a method of discovery and self inquiry.”